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Stock Upgrades: Gap Back to Its Lewinsky Glory Days?


Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

A 40-year-old intern recently said it was finally time to "bury the blue dress," but the company that made the infamous item isn't ready to kick the bucket quite yet. The Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS), which also owns Banana Republic and Old Navy, today scores a broker boost on account of its margin expansion opportunities, improved execution, and inventory reduction.
The check was in the mail on Wall Street, with Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) up for a third straight day, but lower Manhattan's money men still couldn't hold a candle to the financial action occurring over in the normally staid, silk-stocking district of New York's Upper East Side. That was where Sotheby's (NYSE:BID) sold a 2.5-centimeter, one-thousandth of an ounce, 158-year-old stamp for $9.5 million. That made it history's most valuable object by size and proved that even beleaguered bond guru Bill Gross occasionally has an eye for an investment. The evening auction action contrasted with another sleepy session and tepid trading volume in equities. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), which got trading started, tried to wake everyone up, and Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ:GMCR) certainly did. Its gravity-defying stock gained 4.56%, a historic high, going to Pluto even as espresso finally arrived in Outer Space. Moving from the Mountain to Capitol Hill, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz was told to wake up and smell the Turkish java and stop touting green coffee extract as a "miracle" cure. (Congress, which once deemed pizza a green vegetable, sat aghast as Domino's (NYSE:DPZ) dropped 1.63% on a rating reduction.) By contrast, footwear firm DSW Inc. (NYSE:DSW) rose 3.07% after ironically being boosted by Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), which once inflicted a serious assault on the company in Battery Park. Maybe the "great vampire squid" has a sole after all.
This afternoon in economics, the Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. EDT, and Janet Yellen's press conference commences at 2:30 p.m. On the corporate front, expect earnings announcements from FedEx (NYSE:FDX), Hennes & Mauritz (OTCMKTS:HNNMY), Jabil Circuit (NYSE:JBL), and Red Hat (NYSE:RHT).
Now let's analyze this morning's analyst upgrades, a group that encompasses a snack food stock as well as our aforementioned The Gap Inc.

Diamond Foods (NASDAQ:DMND): KeyBanc Capital hoists the snack foods firm to Buy from Hold.
EasyJet (OTCMKTS:ESYJY): Another day, another upgrade for the low-cost European carrier, added to Goldman Sachs' Focus List this morning.
Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN): Goldman gives BEN a Buy-from-Neutral boost.
The Gap Inc: Shares get upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity. Its price objective, previously $47, increases to $51.
Medtronic (NYSE:MDT): As if broker boosts on both Monday and Tuesday weren't enough, today Barclays moves the medical-device maker to Overweight from Equal Weight.
Nimble Storage (NYSE:NMBL): NMBL is now Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.
Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN): BMO Capital takes the poultry powerhouse to Outperform from Perform after recent share-price softness.
Walgreen (NYSE:WAG): Shares get increased to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Royal Mail Isn't Fit for a King, Even as Stamp Shatters Auction Record

Stock Downgrades: Sell SunPower Ahead of Summer Solstice
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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